Toyota last week announced plans to accelerate its goal to sell 5.5 million electrified vehicles by five years, bringing the target back from 2030 to 2025. At Toyota, electrified vehicles include hybrids, battery-electric cars and hydrogen fuel cell-electric cars.
Core to the revised plans is the development of volume models with solid-state batteries, the first of which Toyota aims to unveil as early as 2020, or two years earlier than previously planned.
The new target was revealed by Toyota R&D chief Shigeki Terashi during a June 7 presentation outlining the automaker's electrification plans.
“If possible, by the time we have the Olympic games next year, we would like to make sure that a solid-state battery can be unveiled to the public,” Terashi said.
Solid-state batteries, as the name suggests, use solid electrolytes rather than liquid which most electric car batteries, like lithium-ion units, use today. A major benefit of solid-state batteries is that they are less prone to overheating or fire. They also promise faster charge times (we're talking mere minutes) and less weight, since their greater density enables them to hold more charge.
The downside is that they’re still very expensive to manufacture on a mass scale. Toyota and fellow Japanese firm Panasonic in January announced the establishment of a joint-venture company to manufacture batteries, including solid-state designs.
2012 Toyota RAV4 EV
Toyota dabbled with electric cars early on, even forming a partnership with Tesla in 2010 and testing the waters with the RAV4 EV two years later. But soon after the launch of the electric SUV, Toyota shocked many by deciding that fuel cells were a better bet. It then cut its ties with Tesla and started work on the Mirai.
With the market embracing batteries over fuel cells as the solution for zero-emission driving, Toyota has changed its tack. The automaker has little choice, particularly because of China which plans to set goals for electric and plug-in hybrid cars to make up at least a fifth of local sales by 2025. Non-compliance could mean fines as well as the possibility of losing licenses to sell internal-combustion cars.
As part of its electrification efforts, Toyota said last week it is developing a modular EV platform with Subaru that will first appear in a compact SUV. Other models spawned from the platform will include small and mid-size SUVs, a minivan, as well as sedan and hatch models. Toyota is committed to launching at least 10 battery-electric cars within the first half of the next decade.
Concepts preview six battery-electric cars being developed at Toyota